Shell ‘happy’ with portfolio post-Chrysaor deal

Oil major Shell has said it is “happy” with its portfolio a day after completing the near-£3billion sale of a package of North Sea assets.

Jessica Uhl, chief financial officer at Shell, said yesterday that the North Sea was still an important area for the firm, with production of about 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Ms Uhl said Shell offloaded its interests in the 10 North Sea assets to Chrysaor because it felt its capital would be “better deployed” elsewhere.

The divestment was “not so much a statement about the UK, as a statement about those assets,” she said after the firm published its third-quarter results.

Asked whether further North Sea sales were planned, Ms Uhl said there would be no “important announcements” or “material changes” in the near term.

Recent North Sea developments at Shell include last week’s submission of a field development plan for the Fram field, while redevelopment options are being considered for the Penguins area.

The Anglo-Dutch firm also provided an update on its divestment programme, through which it hopes to raise about £23billion to help balance the books following its mega-merger with BG Group.

Ms Uhl said Shell had completed £15billion worth of asset sales and was on track to meet its target for 2016-18.

She also said the rise in Brent crude prices to in excess of $60 had not led to an escalation in supply chain costs.

Shell recorded third-quarter, pre-tax profits of £4.3billion, up from £1.4billion last year.

Revenues rose 22.5% year-on-year to £57.9billion.

Increased production and higher crude prices and refining margins boosted the firm’s performance.

Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden said the firm’s three business areas – integrated gas, upstream and downstream − had made “resilient contributions” to a “strong set of results”.

Mr van Beurden said: “This competitive performance is further evidence of Shell’s growing momentum, and strengthens my firm belief that our strategy is working.”

Earlier this week BP revealed that its third-quarter profits had more than doubled and announced plans to start buying back its own shares to offset dilution caused by its scrip dividend.

Biraj Borkhataria, analyst at RBC Europe, said Shell had produced a decent set of results, making it more likely that it will announce the removal of its scrip dividend at its management day later this month.

Analysts also said the upturn in performance at BP and Shell showed that the sector’s health is on the mend after a difficult few years caused by low crude prices.

Fiona Cincotta, senior market analyst at City Index, said: “Alongside BP’s robust result on Tuesday, this update from Shell will only strengthen perceptions that the sector has turned a corner since prices collapsed in 2014.”

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